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Dog wearing safety cooling vest

The essentials

  • Help your friend beat the heat — Whether you’re in the throes of summer or planning ahead for next year, it’s never a bad idea to help your pet beat the heat. A dog cooling vest is one of the best (and most effective) ways to do that.
  • Pick your favorite type and buy — There are three main dog cooling vest types: evaporation-based, reflective vests, and ice sheet insert vests. Scroll to read what you need to know about each type.
  • Excessive heat can have deadly consequences — Pets can be especially susceptible to heat, causing outcomes such as heatstroke, seizures, and death in severe cases. Planning ahead can save your pet’s life.

Panting, frozen water bottles, and cold packs, oh my! While these are all great ways to help your dog cool down for the summer, there’s nothing that compares to a dog cooling vest. These summer outfits give your pet a refreshing cooling effect close to the body, easily penetrating thick coats and combating the summer heat. They come in various sizes, too, meaning that pets of all sizes can stay comfortable in the warm weather.

A dog cooling vest is your ticket to a safe and healthy summer — whether your pet is doing outdoor activities or staying extra cool in their favorite nap spot at home. Here’s what you need to know about available options and our top picks.

How does a dog cooling vest work? 

It’s not magic (although it sure seems like it!) Here’s the general science behind dog cooling vests:

The science behind dog cooling vests

Many vests work like human sweat does — using an evaporation-based cooling system with fabric that’s designed to retain water. Often, this fabric will be dense and absorbent, giving your pet a faster cooling experience.

Your vest might also be made of heat and light-reflecting material, or it might have areas where pet parents can slide a vest-shaped ice pack right in. There are plenty of convenient ways to cool your dog.

Why your dog needs a cooling vest

There are two primary reasons why your dog needs a cooling vest: Their physical safety and their overall comfort. Here are a few other reasons to think about:

Dog cooling vests can prevent heat stroke in dogs

Your dog’s temperature can dictate their physical health and safety. Dog heat stroke is a very real risk in the summer, and can present with symptoms such as:

  • Blood-red gums or peri-oral areas
  • Excessive panting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Dry mucous membranes (i.e. no spit at all in your dog’s mouth)

⚠️ We do want to note: You don’t need to be in a place with excessive heat for this to happen. Living in a warm climate can be enough, as your dog’s temperature is very sensitive. This is especially true if you have a brachycephalic breed, since they can’t expel warm air quickly enough to really cool off.  Keeping your pup cool is KEY for their health , especially on hot days.

Enhancing comfort during hot summer days

No one likes getting too warm on those white-hot summer days! When it comes to cooling off and staying comfortable, consider your pet as well. After all — you can safely assume that your pet is pretty toasty, especially under all that fur. Cold products such as cooling vests, and plenty of cold water and shade can help to regulate your pet’s temp.

Tips for choosing the right cooling vest for your dog 

Here’s what to watch for so that you walk away with the best possible vest for your dog:

Determine the right size

You’ll want your furry friend to have a comfortable fit in whatever cooling wrap you pick — so be sure to measure before you order to ensure you get the right size. Generally, you’ll want to measure your dog’s length, width, neck, and chest area, getting every angle you can of your dog’s body and girth. The vest options we list here will offer dimensions so you can buy with confidence.

Consider the vest material

Whether you’re choosing an evaporative cooling option, or you’re shopping for discounts, you’ll want to pick a comfortable vest option for your pet. Many reputable vest options use lightweight materials (such as breathable neoprene) that give you the absot-yet-light quality in good cooling vests. This is an awesome feature, especially because too heavy of a fit can make your dog feel anxious.

Check the vest’s cooling duration

Dog vests can only cool for so long! The answer to this is usually in the tag or description of the product, outlining exactly how much time your dog’s body temperature can be regulated in a single use. Generally, you should look for an option that can cool for multiple hours.

Our eight favorite cooling vests 

Here are eight staff-selected awesome vests that we’re sure will keep your pet cool all summer long!

1. Evaporation vest: Kurgo Core Cooling Vest

  • Why we like it: Accessible price, detailed size chart, strategic cooling of the neck and back, leash portal
  • What we don’t like: Tighter around the neck, may not suit larger breeds due to the snug fit

2. Evaporation vest: Soaoun Evaporation Cooling Vest

  • Why we like it: Extremely affordable, comes in a range of sizes, lightweight polyester construction, additional UV protection
  • What we don’t like: Currently shows delayed delivery at the time of this publication

3. Evaporation vest: DOGZSTUFF Dog Cooling Vest

  • Why we like it: Super light microfiber construction, UV protection, wide range of size options, refund or replacement guarantee
  • What we don’t like: Less water retention than others; better for short walks/adventures

4. Reflective vest: Rantow Cooling Vest Harness 

  • Why we like it: Wide range of available sizes, offers evaporation tech too, extra UV protection, simple to use and secure
  • What we don’t like: Smaller sizes compared to other types, possible sizing inconsistencies

5. Reflective vest: SmartElf Dog Cooling Vest 

  • Why we like it: Chemical free, pet-safe mesh construction, evaporation tech included, extremely visible due to the hunter’s orange coloration
  • What we don’t like: Some owners report consistent snags due to the materials used

6. Ice vest: CoolerDog Dog Cooling Vest

  • Why we like it: Unique collar addendum for extra cooling power, machine washable, created from chew-resistant neoprene and nylon
  • What we don’t like: Users report sizing variability despite accurate measurements

7. Ice vest/collar: FlexiFreeze Cooling Collar

  • Why we like it: Pulls heat directly off the neck for fast and strategic cooling, high-visibility reflective material included, easy velcro closure, additional ice strips available
  • What we don’t like: Duration lasts about an hour, may not be suitable for long adventures

8. Ice vest: GFPet Elasto-fit Ice Vest

  • Why we like it: Wide range of sizing available, specifically suited for larger breeds, adjustable velcro closures, anti-microbial construction, elasto-fit tech,  works for hours
  • What we don’t like: Users report that it’s usually a bigger size than expected, meaning that the product might not be true-to-size

Frequently asked questions

Do cooling vests actually work?

Yes, cooling vests can be incredibly helpful and can cool your dog down quickly. They generally rely on evaporation and direct ice pack contact with your dog’s coat, making them near-foolproof.

What are the disadvantages of a cooling vest?

The main disadvantage to cooling vests is the chafing that can occur if they are not sized correctly. Following the sizing charts for the item that you are purchasing can help you to limit this risk.

Do you wet a cooling vest?

Yes, you will generally wet a cooling vest, especially if it uses evaporation technology. Be sure to follow the instructions on your vest of choice for the best results for your pup!

Should you put a cooling vest in the freezer?

While you can, we don’t recommend this unless the instructions say you should. Putting it in the freezer can make it too cold or uncomfortable for your furry friend’s sensitive skin.

Can I use a cooling vest for dogs inside?

You can use a cooling vest for your pet if you are indoors. Just be sure to check in on your dog’s temperature to make sure they aren’t getting too cold in their current climate.